The Hard Knox Caf received its lowest score on a health code inspection in the last five years in its most recent inspection on May 19. The facility received an 82 out of 100.
According to the Knox County Health Department’s Director of Health Protection Sam Jarvis ’09, this is nothing to be concerned by.
“An 82 is certainly nothing that would alarm me,” Jarvis said.
The Knox Student obtained the last five years of health code inspection scores for the Hard Knox Caf, Gizmo and C-Store through a Freedom of Information Act request to KCHD.
The Hard Knox Caf is classified as a Category I Ð High Risk facility and is therefore inspected three times each year. The Gizmo and C-Store are both Category II Ð Medium Risk facilities and are inspected twice annually. Each time an inspection occurs, KCHD comes to the facility unannounced.
The cafeteria has scored a 90 or above for each inspection in the last five years other than the most recent inspection and an inspection on April 3, 2014 when the facility received an 87.
Most recently, the Gizmo received a perfect 100 on May 31, 2016 and the C-Store received an 98 on Jan. 27, 2016. All other scores in the C-Store were a 100 in the last five years of inspections. The Gizmo has received at least a 90 in its inspections except for an 89 on March 6, 2013.
“An 80 and above is good. A 90 and above is great. A 100 means you’re having a really good day,” Jarvis said.
Jarvis was able to provide the average scores by category for this August’s inspections. In Knox County, there were 26 Category I inspections in August with an average score of 92.85. There were 15 Category II inspections with an average score of 98.2 and there was only one Category III inspection and the facility received a 100. None of the facilities at Knox are Category III – Low Risk facilities but this would include places like gas stations that sell food with minimal preparation. They are inspected once per year.
Jarvis said these averages are basically representative of average scores in general.
“A lot of times people look at 100 and think they have to get a 100, but there can be a lot of minor violations that can drop a score down to 95. And that’s certainly nothing to be ashamed of,” he said.
Senior Rachel Cheng said that the health code scores are important and interesting to learn about, though she is currently off-board.
“I would kind of like to make sure that the food in the Caf is safe and doesn’t cause food poisoning,” Cheng said.
Cheng used to work in the Dining Services in the Grab n’ Go and wasn’t really surprised to find that the scores had dropped. She said she had heard about some questionable storage practices and got sick once last year.
When major violations are found KCHD tries to correct them before leaving the facility. This might include throwing out expired food, reheating food or embargoing a device that isn’t working correctly until it can be serviced.
Usually, KCHD returns 10 days after the initial inspection to ensure that any major violations have remained corrected.
In its most recent inspection, the Hard Knox Caf received violations for: Having prepared food in a walk-in cooler that was expired past its seven-day shelf-life, food items in a hot cart holding temperatures of 110 to 115 degrees when they needed to be held at a minimum of 135 degrees and items in the salad and burger topping bar being held at 49 degrees or above when they needed to be 41 degrees or below.
While KCHD was on-site, Dining Services discarded the expired food and rapidly reheated the hot food to a temperature above 135 degrees. An embargo tag was placed on the unit holding cold food and Dining Services was given 24 hours to fix it. KCHD returned on May 20 and the unit was functioning properly, so the embargo tag was removed.
The college also received a violation because wastewater from a kitchen three-compartment sink was leaking onto the floor. The facility was given 10 days to fix it.
KCHD returned for a follow-up on May 31. At this time, the previously embargoed cooler had been taken out of commission for the remainder of the semester. The wastewater was still leaking from the kitchen sink, but was corrected by a second follow-up on June 10. The facility was issued a $100 citation for needing a second follow-up.
Dining Services General Manager Diane Welker did not have time to comment before publication.